Just over a week ago, the Ohio Bobcats played by far their worst game of the year in a 36-point loss to Eastern Michigan.
On Saturday, the Bobcats were able to redeem that disastrous loss by defeating the Eagles at home in the Convocation Center, 76-73.
“A 39-point turnaround from a week and a half ago; welcome to college basketball,” Ohio coach Saul Phillips said.
The big turnaround was because of their effort on defense, which has been the Achilles heel for Ohio all season. The Bobcats held EMU to 39.4 percent shooting for the game, thanks in part to the interior play of Antonio Campbell and Maurice Ndour.
With their size and length, Campbell and Ndour caused problems all game for the Eagles’ big men, virtually taking them out of the game and limited their production around the rim.
Outside of guard Raven Lee, who scored a game-high 33 points and nearly brought the Eagles back from a 15-point deficit, EMU was held in check on offense.
The two Ohio big men combined for seven blocks, including a big one by Campbell on Lee lay-up, leading to a Ndour lay-up on the other end to give Ohio a 64-55 lead with 6:11 left in the second half.
After the block, Campbell gave a smirk at Lee, who let Campbell know he wasn’t afraid to attack him after a few blocks:
“He actually told me the play before that, he said ‘the next one of y’all to try to block my shot, I’m dunking on y’all.’
“I gave him little smirk and said ‘what happened to the dunk?’”
It was more than just the shots they blocked that created problems for EMU in today’s game, as the inside presence of Campbell and Ndour affected multiple shots around the rim, and most notably forced EMU to change its style of play.
The Eagles entered today’s game ranked last in the MAC in three-point percentage, and Ohio made Eastern Michigan try and beat them from behind the arc. The plan worked as Eastern Michigan only hit 10 of its 26 three-point attempts.
Defense wasn’t the only aspect of the game that Campbell and Ndour played a major role in, as their passing and scoring from inside helped Ohio counter the 1-3-1 zone deployed by Eastern Michigan.
After missing their first six shot from behind the arc, the Bobcats started to work the ball inside and get easy lay-ups against a stout Eagles defense that came in ranked first in the MAC in defensive field goal percentage.
Once the Bobcats saw success with working the ball inside, it opened up the three-pointers that were lacking at the beginning of the game, finishing the game by hitting eight of their final 16 three-point attempts.
The balanced effort on the offensive end was some of the best he’s seen all season from his team, and noted the importance of how well his offense played against one of the best defensive teams in the country.
After starting 0-4 in conference play, Ohio has won four of its last six games and is slowly working its way out of the bottom of the standings. The win today moves the Bobcats only two-and-a-half games back of first place with eight games to play.